Viewing the solar eclipse in Minnesota

(Photo by Arne Danielson)
Sunlight peeks through the low points on the moon’s jagged edge during the 2002 total solar eclipse, creating a phenomenon known as Baily’s Beads.

By Megan Hopps
[email protected]

Head outdoors Monday, Aug. 21, to witness a unique celestial event that won’t happen again from the west to east coasts of the continental U.S. for 82 years. The big event? A solar eclipse. This remarkable event occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth and blocks all or part of the sun’s light.

While some of the best places to view the total eclipse of the sun are Casper, Wyoming; the Sandhills of western Nebraska; St. Joseph, Missouri; and Carbondale, Illinois; Minnesotans will still fall under the sun’s shadow and be able to view approximately 80 percent of the eclipse. But blink and observers will nearly miss it. The eclipse will only last a mere two minutes from 1:05 p.m. to 1:07 p.m. After that, the moon’s orbit will start to pull away from the sun. In Minnesota, several special events in various state parks are being held to honor this rare phenomenon. Several solar eclipse parties will take place, including events at Afton, Itasca and Tettegouche state parks.

According to NASA, this eclipse will be the first total solar eclipse visible from the United States since the solar eclipse of July 11, 1991 (which was seen only from part of Hawaii) and the first visible from the contiguous United States since 1979. But, at that time, the path of the solar eclipse passed only through the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota.

The August 2017 eclipse will be the first with a path of totality crossing the USA’s Pacific coast and Atlantic coast since 1918. Also, its path of totality makes landfall exclusively within the United States, making it the first such eclipse since the country’s independence in 1776.

Observers should not attempt to view the eclipse with a naked eye. Make sure to use a filtered telescope, binoculars or sunglasses to view the solar eclipse.

Public Viewing Events

Those interested in viewing the solar eclipse can head to any of the following metro locations to learn more about this once-in-a-lifetime celestial event Monday, Aug. 21:

Maple Grove
The public is invited to meet on the Town Green in Maple Grove (7991 Main Street) starting at 11:45 a.m. for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The library will hand out a limited supply of free glasses for safe viewing. In the event of cloudy weather, we’ll move inside the library and attempt live streaming of the event. Remember to never look directly at the sun. No registration is required for this free event. Questions? Call 612-543-5669.

St. Anthony
There will be a solar eclipse viewing event in Silverwood Park in St. Anthony (2500 County Road East) from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. View the solar eclipse through a sun-filtered telescope and eclipse glasses. Discuss the eclipse and print with sunlight to capture an image of it. This is a free event for all ages. Questions? Call (763) 694-7707.

Victoria
Head out to Lowry Nature Center, 7025 Victoria Drive in Victoria, to enjoy The Great American Eclipse from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Make an eclipse viewer and see the partial eclipse visible in Minnesota. This is a free event for people of all ages. Children under 17 must be accompanied by an adult.

Brooklyn Park
Weather permitting, join other amateur astronomers on the Brooklyn Park Library’s lawn (8500 Broadway Avenue) to safely view the solar eclipse together from noon until 2 p.m. Special eclipse-viewing glasses will be provided. Drop in or stay for the entire event. Bring a chair, water, sunscreen, bug spray and snack. The start of partial eclipse will be approximately 11:43 a.m. with a maximum eclipse at 1:06 p.m. The partial eclipse will end around 2:28 p.m.

Blaine
View the solar eclipse at the Northtown Library (711 County Road 10 NE) in Blaine from noon to 8 p.m. The public is invited for solar activities and a viewing of the eclipse.

Southdale
Weather permitting, join professional astronomers to safely view the solar eclipse at the Southdale Library (7001 York Avenue) in Edina from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Enjoy STEM activities with library staff from 11 to 11:45 a.m. View the partial eclipse outside with special telescopes or a pair of special eclipse-viewing glasses provided by the library from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Additional activities will be available during the event. Drop in or stay for the entire event. Bring a chair, water, sunscreen, bug spray and snack. This event is made possible by a partnership with Bell Museum and Planetarium. The start of partial eclipse will be approximately 11:43 a.m. with a maximum eclipse at 1:06 p.m. The partial eclipse will end around 2:28 p.m.

Eden Prairie
Weather permitting, join other amateur astronomers to safely view the solar eclipse together at the Eden Prairie Library (565 Prairie Center Drive). Drop in or stay for the entire event. Bring a chair, water, sunscreen, bug spray and snack. Make your own pinhole viewer to safely view the partial eclipse with Eden Prairie Library’s Teen Tech Squad from 11-11:45 a.m. View the partial eclipse from the library lawn with your pinhole viewer or a pair of special eclipse-viewing glasses provided by the library from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Additional activities will be available during the event. The start of partial eclipse will be approximately 11:43 a.m. with a maximum eclipse at 1:06 p.m. The partial eclipse will end around 2:28 p.m.

Westonka
Head out to Westonka and join other amateur astronomers to safely view the solar eclipse together. Drop in to the Westonka Library (2079 Commerce Boulevard) in Mound or stay for the entire event. Bring a chair, water, sunscreen, bug spray and snack. View the partial eclipse from the library lawn with a pair of special eclipse-viewing glasses provided by the library. Additional activities will be available during the event. The start of partial eclipse will be approximately 11:43 a.m. with a maximum eclipse at 1:06 p.m. The partial eclipse will end around 2:28 p.m.

Minneapolis: Nokomis
Join other amateur astronomers to safely view the solar eclipse at Nokomis Public Library (5100 34th Avenue South) in Minneapolis. Drop in or stay for the entire event. Bring a chair, water, sunscreen, bug spray and snack. Make your own pinhole viewer to safely view the partial eclipse with Nokomis Library staff from noon to 2 p.m. View the partial eclipse from the library lawn with your pinhole viewer or a pair of special eclipse-viewing glasses provided by the library. Additional activities will be available during the event. The start of partial eclipse will be approximately 11:43 a.m. with a maximum eclipse at 1:06 p.m. The partial eclipse will end around 2:28 p.m.

Minneapolis: Sumner
This program takes place at Sumner Field Park (611 Van White Memorial Boulevard). Weather permitting, join other amateur astronomers to safely view the solar eclipse together. Special eclipse-viewing glasses provided. There will be a short information session, stories and crafts with Auntie Beverly, trivia, and kids activities. Drop in or stay for the entire event. Bring a chair, water, sunscreen, bug spray and snack. The start of partial eclipse will be approximately 11:43 a.m. with a maximum eclipse at 1:06 p.m. The partial eclipse will end around 2:28 p.m.